Professional Branding: What Your College Career Counsellor Did Not Tell You

 

So you’re getting ready to graduate, and it’s time to hit the job market. But in this season of tough competition in the job market, how do you set yourself apart from your competitors to be able to get the job you want?

 

Professional Branding sets you apart from the crowd

Professional Branding sets you apart from the crowd

 

Professional branding is not a new concept for job hunters. It’s the image you present to potential employers wherever you are.

 

In a crowded job market, it’s essential to build your own professional brand so that you will stand out from the rest of the pack and build a consistent reputation.

 

Your brand will also help people remember who you are so that when they are asked if they know someone good for a job, you’ll be more likely to come to mind.

 

Key Elements of Your Professional Brand

 

There are four key elements that make up the image and brand you present to the public:

 

1. Your Appearance: This includes the how you dress, your haircut, your cleanliness, and your makeup (if you wear any). No matter what anyone tells you, people still do judge a book by its cover.

2. Your Mannerism: Your behavior is demonstrated through things like your personality, the way you speak, any mannerisms you exhibit (such as twirling your hair), the way you smile (or not), the way you shake someone’s hand, and other actions and statements that demonstrate your values.

3. Your Knowledge: Yes, what you know is still critical in a crowded job market. But people will also be interested in your skills, knowledge and talent that you possess when assessing your professional brand.

4. Your Uniqueness. Your professional brand must include anything that demonstrates how you are different from others. Potential employers are always looking at what new you could bring to their company.

 

Where to Show Your Professional Brand

 

You show your professional brand everywhere, both online and offline, in everything you do. Online, you find your brand reflected in search engine results, social media, any blogs you write for, photos of yourself, or any articles you’ve written.

 

Good or bad, your brand is also reflected wherever someone mentions your name.

 

Offline, you demonstrate your personal brand in any face to face encounters with people. For example, in networking lunches, business meetings, interviews or casual introductions people give you.

 

Anywhere you are mentioned or shown in print, or any offline publications you’ve done could be opportunity to showcase your brand.

 

How to Develop the Professional Brand You Want

Here are a few tips that will help you build and maintain the type of professional image and brand that you want prospective employers to see:

 

  • Put your name into the major search engines and see what comes up. You’ll need to make an effort to move good stuff up the rankings and the not-so-good down the list where people are less likely to see them. You’ll be able to do this by adding more content to the sites you want to appear. If possible, you can even delete some stuff, though it might take time to disappear.

 

  • Keep your private life private. Check the privacy filters on anything you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see. Wherever possible, keep personal information offline, unless it is relevant or helps build the image you want.

 

  • Practice your elevator speech. Take into consideration what your main skills and expertise are and how you add value for an employer. Put that into a short 1 minute blurb and practice saying it out loud. You often only get a minute to make an impression when networking, so you’ll want to spark an interest as quickly as possible without giving a sales pitch.

 

  • Use the same professional photo. Wherever you need to upload or supply a photo of yourself, try to make it the same one. If necessary, get a professional one taken. Whatever you do, take down that photo on your Facebook profile of you and the gang partying on the beach.

 

  • Be active on social media, or stay away. Social media and blogs are all about the interaction and social element. If you’re not going to be active on these sites, don’t be there at all and don’t have a profile there. While it’s important to show up online, it’s better to not be there than to seem apathetic by posting once or twice and then disappearing for weeks at a time.

 

  • Educate yourself consistently. Stay up to date on what is going on in your industry and the world in general. Read the top blogs and publications in your industry, watch the news, read the latest hot business book, etc.

 

  • Do your research. Whenever you are scheduled to have a networking meeting or interview, make sure you have done your research into the company in advance. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest.

 

The internet has made it easier than ever to establish your own professional brand.  Even so, it really is just as effortless to project a poor image of oneself as an excellent one.

 

Work on building a consistent professional brand that is visible to potential employers both online and offline. It can help you stand out from the crowd and land that ideal job much faster.